PREVIEW: 'The Wizard of Oz'

Drama Club Presents 'The Wizard of Oz'


One word comes to mind when members of the Waterloo Drama Club discuss “The Wizard of Oz.”


CLICK HERE to see photos from dress rehearsal

Most everyone has seen the 1939 film, which was adapted from the children’s fantasy novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” written by L. Frank Baum in 1900, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few new twists when the Waterloo Drama Club presents its version at the Waterloo High School Auditorium this weekend. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 17 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 18. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and $10 for students and can be purchased at or at the door.

“The biggest challenge is that people have expectations and I have expectations,” said Joel Touranjoe, the show’s director. “Generally, your expectations are much higher, so the challenge is meeting your expectations and surprising the audience. I think this musical is going to surprise the audience because it is funny. It’s ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and it’s fun.”

Touranjoe, who teaches vocal music at Waterloo High School, admits that he wanted to “make a splash” as a first-time director, but also chose ‘The Wizard of Oz’ because it was a good fit for the members of Drama Club and the show contains valuable messages.

 “Each character represents a certain value,” Touranjoe said. “Lion represents courage in the face of danger, Tinman represents love in the face of hardship, Scarecrow represents intelligence in the face of uncertainty and Dorothy represents all three. The trio helps her through the Land of Oz, her own subconscious creation, and she needs to rely on all three to get back home.”

Senior Aryanna Mateo plays Dorothy and admits that her role comes with a bit of added responsibility.

“I grew up with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and it’s really fun to study and perform because it is a classic,” Aryanna said. “I think that it is important to include a lot of Judy Garland’s bits and pieces to Dorothy, along with mixing in some of my own.”

Other cast members will try to do the same with their parts.

Sophomore Bergren Aunkst-Park plays the Cowardly Lion, along with farmhand Zeke, and is looking forward to the challenge.

“It going to be a fun character to play because the way he acts in the show is nothing like the way that I portray myself in real life, so that’s fun,” Bergren said.

Hudson Grillone says he felt an immediate connection with his part.

“We’re matching characters,” said Hudson, who is in eighth grade and plays Scarecrow and Hunk. “He was my favorite character and that is why I wanted to play him. He was the funny guy and I can be funny. I am also very loose on stage and that helps me with this character.”

Sophomore Tarynn Tam is stepping into a larger role and playing Aunt Em.

“I appreciate how much she cares about Dorothy and how she tries to do what she thinks is best for everyone,” Tarynn said.

Other prominent roles are being played by: Lily Mager (Glinda), Mason O’Connell (Tinman/Hickory), Noelle Gillotti (Wicked Witch of the West), Megan Hall (Almira Gulch), Knowlton Brown (Marvel/The Wizard of Oz), Simone Gillotti (Emerald City Guard), Jacob Griffiths (Uncle Henry), Jonah Williams (Winkie General), Haylee Albro (Nikko) and Mia Arar (Jitterbug).

“The majority of the seniors have been doing productions together since sixth grade, so we have grown up together,” Aryanna said. “It’s very bittersweet. This is my first lead role and having it in my last musical in high school is special to me.”

That special feeling isn’t limited to those preparing to perform their final musical at Waterloo.

“It’s definitely a huge family,” Tarynn said. “Hudson and Mason feel like my little brothers and all of the seniors feel like my older sisters.”